Riley got braces today.

Her first dental appointment when she was a little girl was a nightmare for her and one of the worst experiences of my parenting journey thus far. As she got older it was evident she had a major need for orthodontia but I doubted she’d ever be able to tolerate it.

Today, she was so excited. She could not wait.

To her, braces mean being a tween. Being cool. Being like everyone else.

After her appointment, we went to the mall (and we never go to malls, I hate them) because she wanted to. She wanted to celebrate. We got smoothies and then walked around.

She still gets panicky and reaches for my hand stepping onto escalators, unable to perceive depth well. She’ll forget to let go when we get off the escalator and continue holding my hand as we walk through the mall, (not too cool for that at eleven years old). Hand in hand, this is when I am reminded how much she still reacts internally to external stimuli. She may not scream, but holding her hand, I feel her tension. When we walk by something extra noisy or a scary poster, or a perfume salesperson getting too close in our faces, she flinches. Her hand grips mine extra hard.

She still has sensory issues, but she gets through it. Brave, brave girl. She has worked so hard to be where she is now.

Our orthodontist has been building a relationship with her for years, preparing her for this day. Having us come in every six months, free of charge, just to peek in her mouth. Not even doing anything, just getting her used to him. Getting her used to the idea. Selling her on the coolness of braces.

Some days I am overcome by the kindness of people.

In the chair today, Riley asked intelligent questions. She dealt with all the sensory components of getting her braces on. She beamed when they gave her a mirror to check herself out in. She was pleased with her choice of neon green and purple bands.

She’s happy. She’s a happy girl.

I have this feeling, she’s going to be okay.

And I will never take it for granted.

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14 Responses to Braces

  1. Lydia says:

    So proud of Riley! She is so infinitely cool, in ways that braces could never make her… and I hope someday she knows the depth of that!

  2. Meg says:

    Riley will love this: Betsy has the exact same color bands on hers right now! She looks like a beautiful tweeny-bopper!

  3. Amanda says:

    Go Riley!!

    We’re just waiting for scrumpy to have impressions done for her braces – can only hope she feels inspired by Riley 🙂

  4. Kirsten says:

    Hooray Riley! They look awesome, and she is beautiful. Brave girl, indeed. I have to say, I am with Riley on those escalators…I usually grab for Maddie’s hand as I step onto the down escalator–convinced I’m going to tumble forward–every time. We can’t wait to see the new braces in person!

  5. Heather says:

    Reading this brought a little mist to my eyes. Happy for your Riley…she’s growing so beautifully in all ways possible. Happy to hear about the kindness of the orthodontist and his obvious care and empathy–LOVE those kinds of people, the world needs more of them. Happy for you, Michelle…so much work to get where you are and now you can enjoy these moments of sheer joy! Love.

  6. KFuller says:

    She has the most beautiful eyes! They are smiling!

  7. Kathi says:

    Wow, Michelle, this is a HUGE deal! And might I say I love your orthodontist. That was a great plan, getting he used to the idea like that. I understand how you feel; thank God for angels like them. She IS going to be okay, what a journey you have been on. Really proud of both of you!! XO

  8. Dad and Mums says:

    Great job, Riley!! You look so cool!! You are a beautiful girl!! Great job Todd and Michelle! You have two wonderful children. We enjoyed them so much at Christmas!!
    Lots of love………

  9. Carrie Link says:

    I know you won’t! She looks GREAT!!! They aren’t even hurting? I’m so proud of her, and so thrilled with the orthodontist that went that extra mile(s)!

  10. They are hurting tonight in the front and the wires came loose and are poking the back of her cheeks! The orthodontist called to check on her this evening and I’m taking her back tomorrow for them to fix the wires. In the meantime, I put wax on the poking parts and gave her motrin. Hope our little trooper sleeps.

  11. rhemashope says:

    oh, sweet girl! she looks so much like her mama in this picture. love the neon green and purple.
    praying for her tonight.

  12. kario says:

    You have all worked so hard to get to this place. Makes you wonder what else you will accomplish, doesn’t it? I foresee more amazing things from you all.


  13. Dee Ready says:

    Dear Michelle,
    This posting about Riley and her braces just makes me happy. I’m sitting here smiling because of the deep down goodness of human beings and the resilience of an eleven-year-old who has fought the good fight all these years and is triumphing in so many ways. She would make a wonderful heroine for a book for 10 to 14 year olds.


  14. Leah says:

    So awesome, Michelle! Sounds like you all worked hard and it paid off. And to Riley’s credit, I hate the mall too. Can’t stand the crowds. I sometimes feels physically overwhelmed with all the people.

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